I write today from a town in which all the sharp objects have been hidden. The Washington Redskins are now 2-3 and in the last four weeks they have played teams that--putting aside two wins over
--are a combined 0-17. That's not a typo. The only football team on earth that has played an easier schedule is Washington . I'm a little surprised they aren't playing each other this coming week but the Redskins are playing a team that might not be as good as Penn State: the 0-5 Kansas City Chiefs. Penn State
That's really enough on the Redskins because outside of this area, very few people could care less about a franchise that has been uniformly mediocre since the Dan Snyder's Reign of Error began 10 years ago. One local columnist, my friend Tom Boswell, suggested today that Snyder sell part of the team to Joe Gibbs to get him to come back as team president but that misses the point. Gibbs was a great coach, a mediocre general manager. He was better than Snyder and henchman Vinny Cerrato but my cat would be an improvement on the two of them. There will probably be a lot of whining today about what appeared to be a bad call on a fumbled punt but two points need to be made: The Redskins still had 9:21 left to produce at least a tying field goal after Carolina went ahead 20-17 and you are talking about an offense that scored on drives of 13 yards and one yard and went into the season knowing it was one injury from complete disaster on the offensive line and now has two injuries, an aging running back (who ducked the media yesterday) and a bingo-caller (seriously) dragged out of retirement by Cerrato without consulting his head coach (!!) as a consultant. Honestly, if I was Jim Zorn I'd punch Cerrato right in the nose. He's getting fired anyway so why not?
One more thing on the NFL before moving on to the really good stuff--the baseball. This season is turning into a nightmare for Commissioner Roger Goodell. Rush Limbaugh wants to buy a team. (Guess who is one of the most influential people in the players union? That would be Donovan McNabb) He's got serious labor problems on the horizon. Beyond that, look at how many truly bad teams there are in the league. Now fewer than four teams--
, Kansas City , Tampa Bay and St. Louis --are winless. There are a bunch of truly bad one win teams: Tennessee , Oakland , Detroit , Buffalo and Cleveland not to mention the Redskins. That's nine really lousy teams with the season not close to halfway done. Carolina
There are, of course, some good stories, most notably Josh McDaniels who people wanted to run out of
before he coached a game, being 5-0 with the immortal Kyle Orton at quarterback. Right behind are the Bengals, who won three games a year ago, sitting at 4-1 the only loss on a fluke play against--you guessed it--the Broncos. The Saints, Giants and Colts haven't come close to losing and the Favre kid in Denver has looked pretty good. His Sears commercial is downright funny. Do NOT count out the Patriots. They've played the toughest schedule in football so far. Minnesota
Okay, let's pause for a moment and give The Presidents Cup all the time it deserves...
That's enough, now the baseball.
Am I the only one shocked that it's already football season in
and, well, hockey season in Boston ? It isn't just remarkable that the Red Sox and Cardinals were swept by the Angels and Dodgers but in each case there was a game with an ending that was hard to believe. I have never met Matt Holladay but I couldn't help but feel awful for him after he apparently lost the ball in the lights on what should have been a game-ending play in game 2 in St. Louis Thursday. How different would that series have been if the teams had gone back to Los Angeles tied 1-1? We'll never know of course and St. Louis Holladay may not be in next year since he's a free agent. If he stays, Cardinals fans, who are as good as it gets in baseball, will embrace him and forgive him. If not...well...can you say Bill Buckner? The difference--besides being in The Division Series not The World Series--is that the Mets had already tied the game when Buckner booted the ball in 1986. If St. Louis Holladay makes the play Thursday, the game is over.
Just as stunning was the end of the Red Sox season on Sunday in
. Two outs, no one on, a two run lead and Jonathan Papelbon pitching. That's a lock. People go on and on (as they should about Mariano Rivera) but Papelbon (over a shorter period) has been just about as reliable as Rivera in postseason. And yet, he just couldn't get the third out and the Angels finally exorcised--at least to some degree--1986. I was about to write that they exorcised the ghost of Donnie Moore but then I remembered that Moore committed suicide a few years after the Dave Henderson home run apparently because he never could get over what happened on that Sunday afternoon in Anaheim. Boston
Now the Angels get the Yankees. No one was surprised the Yankees swept the Twins but it was a lot harder than it looked. For all the talk about the vaunted lineup, the Yankees scored one run in the first eight innings of game two and two runs in the first eight innings of game three. The Twins were a base-running mistake and a horrible umpiring call away from winning on Friday in
. They made another bad mistake on the bases Sunday--and you hated to see it happen to Nick Punto who was SO terrific down the stretch, especially in the play-in game against the Tigers--or they might have at least tied the game in the eighth. As Ron Gardenhire put it, "we stayed on the field with them." New York
They did--but the Yankees were better-albeit not by that much. What's more let's not get caught up in his, "A-Rod has put his October ghosts behind him," hype. Not yet he hasn't. Sure, he was great against the Twins but go back to 2004. He was great against the Twins then too before collapsing--along with his team--in the last four games against the Red Sox. Let's see if he can do it against the Angels who have given the Yankees fits for years and have had a similar hold on
that the Red Sox had on them before the last few days. The Angels and Yankees have met three times in postseason since 2002 and The Angels won all three times. IF A-Rod comes through in this series and IF the Yankees win The World Series then the A-Rod apologists can stop apologizing for him. New York
The Phillies middle-of-the-night (in the east) win in frigid
would appear to put them in control of that series, especially with Cliff Lee pitching game four. But you can be the folks in Philly will be a tad nervous if the Rockies force a game five with the wildly inconsistent Cole Hamels pitching for Philadelphia. A Dodgers-Phillies rematch would be fun and my guess is it will take more than five games this time. (Of course I'm the guy who liked the Cardinals to come out of The National League so what do I know). Colorado
Let us end today with a final tribute to The Metrodome--one of the weirdest, wackiest, loudest places where baseball has ever been played. No doubt it is great for the Twins to get a new ballpark--although my guess is Opening Day on April 10th may be a bit brisk--but for a place that had a relatively short history, the Metrodome certainly had a lot of remarkable moments. And, while the ending may have been sad for the Twins fans, they should revel in the way the last regular season ended--with that wonderful victory lap their team took after beating the Tigers last Tuesday.
And let's remember one last thing: the full name of the building was the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. At the very last that's a far more fitting name for a ballpark--especially in Minnesota--than the corporate name that will be on the new stadium. That, however, is the way of the world these days. "The Hump," as it was often called in its early days, will surely be missed.